Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Philanthropic Foundation for Lottery Winners

This is what I'm proposing:

After thinking for some time about the insanity and complete randomness of the seemingly increasing in number lotteries, it seems as though there ought to be a way to put some intelligence, logic and even altruism and beauty back in the system.

So frequently, people of small--or virtually no--means buy lottery tickets, in spite of the incredibly small likelihood of winning (the Powerball chances are 195,249,054 to one, for instance) and come away with nothing. Then, eventually and all of a sudden, one person or couple or family wins an exorbitant amount of money. Some time ago it was 270 million dollars.

I don't begrudge anyone the winning of these large sums, certainly, but it does seem like some more, larger good should come out of this.

And the way to do that is by creating this Philantropic Fourndation for Lottery Winners or "PFLoW".

The benefits are several.

First, after the initial windfall, the taxes in the succeeding years get to be fairly substantial. Most people would rather not add to the government's coffers, necessarily (don't forget we need streets, bridges, sewers, schools and other civil infrastructure), and would rather see some good come of it. This would give them just that vehicle. And because it is for lottery winners, specifically, it is their very own. They could give as much or as little as they like and the chances are quite likely we could assist either a group of their choosing or any other person or organization.

Second, it would be a way to truly make some beautiful things come of this money. We could help the sick, uneducated, undereducated, homeless, naked--in short, those in need of help. Not helpless, but in need of help.

While what I am suggesting we create won't be connected with any one church so we don't favor one group over another, we would, over time, most likely refer to good church groups who know their members and know of a person or people who need a little assistance.

And that's what this would be: a "hand up"--not a handout.

I'd like very much to model this foundation after the famous "micro loans" of the Kiva Friends organization where people are given small amounts, to support themselves. It's been wildly successful.

One organization, too, that I could see us supporting would be the Remote Area Medical--RAM--group that was on "60 Minutes" some time ago last week (go to cbs.com for information). They operate on an extremely small budget per year (approximately $250,000.00) and work with volunteers who give a weekends work giving health care to those in need. They do fantastic work, it seems.

This seems entirely way overdue, especially, as I said, given the proliferance of lotteries and large lottery winnings.

The organization, like KIVA, wouldn't need a large operating budget so we could make sure that 90 to 95 percent--or more--of the foundation's endowment went to those in need.

I would make certain only quality, reputable, honorable people were on the Foundation's board and that the books were open and available at all time.

It could give a terrific sense of purpose to the lottery winners, while not interfering with their new found luxurious life.

It would give them a tax deduction they'll otherwise need and it should help, eventually, thousands and, hopefully, millions.

I've always thought that mankind had the ability, the capability and the wherewithal to feed, clothe, house and tend to the sick for all of us on the planet. When I see how much we have in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, I know we do.

We can do this.

We should do this.

This would be a terrific way to make great things happen. This would be a terrific way to put logic, intelligence, altruism and beauty back in the world.

We've got to do this. It makes too much sense.